Review by Sean Boelman
Since getting into the original content business, Netflix’s projects have been getting bigger and bigger, and Red Notice is perhaps their most ambitious yet, a mainstream action blockbuster with three legitimate movie stars as the leads. It’s exactly what one would expect, an entertaining and entirely forgettable adventure made into a winner by its central trio.
The film follows an FBI agent who must team up with a highly skilled art thief to track down and thwart one of the world’s most wanted criminal masterminds by getting their hands on a priceless artifact before her. It’s about as standard as they come for a globe-trotting adventure, hitting all of the regular beats, even the lost Nazi treasure storyline.
That said, the movie manages to be a charmer thanks to the amazing chemistry between the three leads. Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson are both doing their usual schtick, but they work well together. It’s interesting to see two actors who are normally the lead share the spotlight with each other, creating a constantly shifting dynamic of hero and sidekick. And in a rare antagonistic role, Gal Gadot gives an uncharacteristically enjoyable performance.
And yet, despite the fact that the actors are so good at what they do, their roles don’t give them much of an opportunity to do more than the usual. Reynolds plays the cocky criminal whose smooth talking makes him a lovable anti-hero. Johnson is the by-the-book cop who has to go against what he knows when he is framed for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. And Gadot is the only one doing something somewhat different from her repertoire as a generic femme fatale.
The pacing of the film also isn’t all that great, even though the high-energy nature of the movie serves as a facade for the pointless nature of the film. The opening hooks viewers in with a solid action sequence but then the movie grinds to a halt with a twenty minute route to the main story, even though a single sequence could have connected the fit action sequence to the next much more concisely.
And for a film about art thieves, the heist sequences sure aren’t all that interesting. The plot literally revolves around stolen artifacts and yet little effort is put into making the stealing of them fun. The action is mostly focused around the aftermath of stealing these precious MacGuffins, and it’s not all that creative in its choreography.
It’s clear from the look of the movie that this had an enormous budget, but money alone does not give the film a feeling of energy. Sure, the camerawork is flashy, and there are lots of CGI effects and beautiful scenery from around the world, but that doesn’t make up for a lack of action sequences that are genuinely fun to watch.
Red Notice is exactly what is promised, for better or for worse. It’s a popcorn flick that will be sure to draw plenty of views from Netflix’s massive subscriber base, but will be forgotten as quickly as it came (at least until the inevitable sequel reminds people of its existence).
Red Notice hits theaters on November 5 and Netflix on November 12.